When an Increase in Central Systolic Pressure Overrides the Benefits of Heart Rate Lowering

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2016 Aug 16;68(7):754-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2016.03.610.


An elevated resting heart rate has been unequivocally linked to adverse cardiovascular events. Conversely, a physiologically low heart rate may confer longevity benefits. Moreover, pharmacological heart rate lowering reduces cardiovascular outcomes in patients with heart failure, with the magnitude of the reduction associated with survival benefit. In contrast, pharmacological heart rate lowering paradoxically increases cardiovascular events in hypertension, possibly because it elicits a ventricular-vascular mismatch, leading to increased central systolic blood pressure (BP). By the same hemodynamic mechanism, pharmacological heart rate lowering also engenders an increase in central (aortic) BP in coronary heart disease and, as a consequence, fails to decrease myocardial oxygen consumption. Whether in heart failure, hypertension, or coronary heart disease, or even athletes, heart rate lowering consistently increases central systolic pressure. The increase in central systolic BP is prone to abolish the potential benefits of heart rate lowering interventions, possibly accounting for failure to reduce outcomes in patients with hypertension and coronary artery disease.

Keywords: beta-blockers; blood pressure; coronary artery disease; heart failure; hypertension; ivabradine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Systole


  • Antihypertensive Agents